Blogging, Mental health

Ugly Truth 003: Distraction Posts Work

“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.” [The Guardian, 25 February 2010]
Hilary Mantel
Dear Readers, The fact is, human beings are not great multitaskers. When we attempt to achieve more by doing more, our ability and efficacy actually suffer. We do indeed thrive best during single task activities in terms of both long and short term goals. It is no secret that distraction is one of the most common coping skills among those with mental health diagnoses, or even common every day stressors. While in the whirlwinds of anxiety or the uncertainty of a mood swing, it becomes so very easy to become lost in a movie, our favorite song, or a soothing task. The trouble is, in an age of information and technology, we are more susceptible to overstimulation, misinformation, and the fluctuations of brain chemistry. I want you to imagine, if you will, just how much information you take in each and every day from billboards, radio, television, news apps, and social media. Try to imagine what that number might be, and then compare it to that number ten years ago. Advertisement was always on the rise, sure, but when compared with today’s breadth and depth of information processing – I find it all a bit staggering. Surely this has to take a toll on our brain health and personal psychology. The truth is, the world wide web connects us to others around the globe minimizing the isolation mental illness can create. Likewise, distraction is a viable coping skill allowing a time frame for symptoms to pass or stress to cease. However, the tools bestowed upon us might also be contributing to the problem. You know that old saying about having too much of a good thing? Well, I do believe we’ve found it. Naturally curious, I embraced this pattern of thought and used my fingertips to research the topic of a social media detox. I was sold on the concept in less than five minutes. Neuroplasticity suggests that our brains are somewhat malleable. It teaches us that we are quite capable of breaking old habits, developing new ones, and recovering from damage. This is great news in the face of an endless supply of blue lit screens and voice-activated convenience. What fascinates me further is that we as a society have given room where previously there was none. We have accepted new social norms that were once blatantly disrespectful. We gently ignore the unprofessional cashier or lack of eye-contact from our peers because it affords us our own indulgences. Not only that, but social media makes our personal lives vulnerable to speculation by friends, family, employers and strangers. At the very least it begs the question, how much is too much? Experts suggest no more than two hours daily of screen time, but we all know we have received leagues more than that ever since the unveiling of Microsoft. Here we are – the same kids from the AOL boom – with handheld computers we couldn’t even imagine, fully equipped with the social media that allows us to compare, delude, debate and depress ourselves. As you can see, this really got me thinking about the person I was, and the person I’ve become as a child of a generation at the center of an age of access. Not only that, but how that influences my mental health. So, I have challenged myself to eliminate social media from my screen diet for 100 days in attempt to reset my dopamine production, and glean some wisdom along the way. My hope is that I will find more time to return to the things I love, and perhaps even find no desire to return to social media at all. I say, this is too much of a good thing. I say, hang up the internet and walk outside! Allow your mind to recalibrate and quiet. What is this incessant need for stimulation? What would you be doing right now if you weren’t staring at your phone? How many fewer books do you read each year? How many fewer hobbies do you pursue? How much time is lost or wasted? How many evenings are spent turned away from family members, lovers, and dinner tables? **If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!** For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide! In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!

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